FiGO | Rear Support Pet Wheelchair

by Rickee, published

FiGO | Rear Support Pet Wheelchair by Rickee Mar 14, 2016

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Wheelchairs for domestic animals are very expensive and often inaccessible to many pet owners. They are not always the most welcoming solution for people who need a pet wheelchair for their animals at short notice, on a budget, at a remote location, or perhaps for temporary purposes.

This project empowers people to build their pet’s wheelchair with the combination of digital fabrication (3D printing) and traditional making. All materials used in the project can be sourced locally at a hardware store. This device uses parametrically designed 3D printed joint pieces that fit into acrylic tubing, which can be easily customized to the dog for both fit and style purposes.

All pieces can be personalized via the Customizer application. Currently screw size, tube outer diameter, wheel angle, as well as your dog’s measurements can be input to view a rendering of your dog’s wheelchair). However, the standard pieces are available on this project page for download. I am currently working on making the pieces resizable based on your dog's weight for added strength (currently you can do this by manually scaling the pieces).

Project Photos by Pete Thorne Photo

The FiGO instruction manual has been translated in Romanian by Thingiverse community member Veronica. It can be downloaded in the downloads section. Thank you for your contribution Veronica! *

Table of Contents

  1. How it Started
  2. Materials
  3. Tools
  4. Measuring Your Pet
  5. Instructions
  6. Testimonials
  7. Notes
  8. Update Log

1. How It Started

FiGO began when I answered a call online for a friend who needed a wheelchair for their French Bulldog at short notice. They were unable to afford the costly commercial wheelchairs available online. I rose to the occasion to design something for an adorable dog, and the results were fantastic! Murray loved her chair!

Since then, I've built two other chairs for dogs, and I've worked on iterating the FiGO design and documentation to encourage all dog owners to tackle this project for their pet in need.

2. Materials

All materials used in the fabrication of this chair can be sourced locally at a hardware-store or online via Amazon.com. The wheelchair consists of roller blade wheels, standard skate bearings, screws, acrylic tubing, straps, and 3D printed joint pieces.

3. Tools

You'll need the following tools for this project:

  • Screwdriver
  • Scissors
  • Measuring Tape
  • Access to a 3D Printer (a Makerbot Replicator 2X was used for this project)
  • Lighter
  • Soldering Iron (optional)

4. Measuring Your Pet

In order to determine what size the wheelchair frame needs to be, you'll have to measure your pet properly. The diagram below visually depicts the three measurements that need to be taken. Measurement A is the width of your pet, measurement B is the height of your pet from the ground to the top of their shoulder bone, and measurement C is the length of your pet from their front belly back to their tail.

Once you have these measurements, you'll need to do a few simple calculations to determine the size of tubing that will be required for your FiGO wheelchair!

You will need:

  • 2x tube measurement A plus 1"
  • 2x tube measurement B minus the radius of your chosen wheel, then minus 1"
  • 2x tube measurement C minus 2"

I have created a simple google spreadsheet that does these calculations for you as you input your dogs measurements. Click on "file>save a copy" to edit the file for yourself. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1OUDn9DBQ-ixo-nfdue-AFACkzlDrC4GsDhREl2hxNsc/edit?usp=sharing

5. Instructions

Here's all you need to know about building your very own FiGO Wheelchair! First you need to gather all of the supplies, and 3D print all of the 10 joint pieces (A-E). Remember that the B piece needs to be printed mirrored as well (both files are provided in the files section).

Afterwards, you're ready to start building the FiGO frame!

Step 1

First, take both of your A pieces and a width tube (measurement A), slide the tube into the first A piece, and then connect the second A piece to the tube. Make sure the tabs that will be used for the straps are facing in the direction pictured below.

Step 2

Next connect both A pieces to both length tubes (measurement C)

Step 3

Slide both B pieces down the length tubes leaving about an inch or so between B and A (this will change depending on your chair size, and you can easily move these pieces up later to match your pet's size). Make sure that the tabs on both pieces are facing outwards, and are both pointing to the back of the wheelchair (toward piece A).

Step 4

Now do the same with both C pieces, remembering that the tabs are on the outside of the wheelchair.

Step 5

Cap both D pieces on the ends of the length tubes, with the tabs facing outward.

Step 6

Now place both height tubes (measurement B) in both B pieces and then set your currently wheelchair frame aside.

Step 7

Now take both E pieces and one final width tube (measurement A) and connect them together. This step is not required for dogs smaller than 10 pounds. In this case, use piece E with no added support bar.

Step 8

Connect both E pieces to the height tubes you placed on your frame in step 6.

Step 9

Add the wheels to both E pieces. Make sure you've added your bearings to your wheels if they don't already have them. Secure the wheels to the E piece with the longer 3" screw and cap it with an acorn nut. You may need to use a screw driver for this.

Step 10

Finally, add the straps to the chair. Both collars will be fastened to piece D at the front of the wheelchair, and the rest of the straps will be made out of a dog leash (or any piece of vinyl webbing that you may have). Piece A will require a longer strap as it is for the dog's legs, Pieces B and C's straps are for the dog's belly and will need to be the same size.

The dog collars can be cut in half, and then cut down shorter if need be. The fit will have to be very secure.

For the body straps (pieces B and C), place the leash around the dog when they are standing in the chair first to see how long it needs to be. For the leg strap, make it slightly longer than the belly strap length.

Cut the straps with scissors, and to prevent fraying quickly pass over it with a lighter. Once all of your straps are cut to size, cut two holes into them with scissors at each end, or use a soldering iron to burn a hole through. This is an especially useful tool as it will burn through the plastic preventing any fraying. The collar straps only need to be punctured at the ends that were cut.

Secure the straps to the tabs on each joint piece with the smaller screws and make sure they are tight!

Note: After the FiGO wheelchair is complete, the tube between the two A pieces, as well as the tubes connecting pieces B to E can be glued with Gorilla Glue to ensure stability of the chair. This is not as important when the dog is very light, but is recommended otherwise.

6. Testimonials

Testimonials will be added very shortly!

7. Notes

It is important to note that you should consult with your vet if you have any questions or concerns with the fabrication or fit of the wheelchair. You may also use the comments of this project page to ask any questions.

All dogs will take time to get used to their wheelchair. Some adapt really quickly and some hate their chairs initially. It takes work to train a dog to be comfortable with their wheelchair.

I've worked with three dogs so far and I've experienced: a very comfortable and quickly adapted dog, an anxious and moody dog, and a timid pup. I've learned that leaving the chair in your living space and just letting your dog approach it and sniff it themselves helps!

8. Update Log

March 2016: FiGO 2.0 Release

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Bravo! Quel beau projet !

Thanks for this great design. A couple ideas:.

  1. Wondering if the middle brackets could be set in place with a 3D printed thumb screw instead of glue. That would provide some adjustability. The plastic tubing might not have enough bite though and might crack if tightened too much. Or perhaps some collars on either side of the brackets.

  2. It would be nice to countersink the screws and bolts so they set nicely into the brackets.

Thank you for building the cart, loved your photo! I also really appreciate your comments. I love getting feedback on how to improve the cart, and I'm going to be working on updating the design in the summer months. Please don't hesitate to keep sending me suggestions as you use the design!

You're welcome. So I tried to modify the brackets to make them adjustable (no glue). The thumbscrew idea didn't work. It just couldn't 'bite' into the smooth acrylic tubing. I tried something else that works pretty well. Check it out. - https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2905636 Needs a little work. I'm very much an amateur at 3D modeling, so what I can is limited until I learn more.

Dog Wheel Chair Adjustable Bracket Prototype
Comments deleted.

This is awesome, i was just asked to 3d print a wheelchair for a friends Chihuahua who has limited use of her hind legs and will likely lose it completely over time. Thanks so much for making this available. Two questions would PVC pipe be swappable for the acrylic tube and for the 3d printed parts, they don't need to change based on the dogs size correct?

That is correct! PVC pipe will work just fine for a Chihuahua. Best of luck in your build!

Does anyone know how to open the Customizer?

Customizer is back in action! If you're unable to get it to work, this link should do it: https://www.thingiverse.com/apps/customizer/run?thing_id=1397964.

Hi there! It looks like the Customizer application is down and being fixed by Thingiverse. I'll try to keep you posted. Sorry about this :(!

I went to Plastic World and it was indeed awesome. However their 3/4" acrylic tubing is also about 0.88" OD. Is there something I'm missing about what 3/4" means?

hmm that's confusing. it could be that they are referring to their inner diameter of 3/4"? when I order from plastic world I ask for < 1/2" 3/4" > tubing. So 1/2" inner and 3/4" outer. The size shouldn't matter too much if you're comfortable adjusting the 3D printable pieces to that outer diameter size though, which will require a little bit of math and/or trial and error!

Do you have a source for the tubing in Canada, either online or in the GTA? Thanks.

For the acrylic tubing, plastic world is my favourite and they are located in the GTA! http://plasticworld.ca/

Thank you! I grabbed some PEX at Home Depot marked 3/4” but it’s actually 0.86” and I’m already too far out of my element.

Thank you so much making this available to us to help these little animals in need. I made a wheelchair for an elderly dachshund who looked so depressed that she couldn't use her rear legs anymore, seeing her attitude change instantly moving around happily following her owner around again was one of the happiest moments in my life and it was thanks to you.

Hi Frank,

I am overjoyed to read this message. Your build looks fantastic!

So glad you posted this here. I live in a very small town and a lady has a kitten with something wrong with its back legs. As a guy with a love of animals and two 3D printers, I offered to help this lady.

Now if I could stop doing things for free for people I'd probably do a lot better financially but damn if I can't stand to see peoples pets not doing well. Again, thank you for sharing this.


First of all, thanks for designing such an amazing solution for sick or injuried animals! I'll try to translate the instructions to spanish so it's accesible to even more people.

I've downloaded the files but they're not manifold, is there a way that they can be fixed? Thanks in advance.

Yes, as Frank mentioned I would run them through that website. I will try to fix and reupload the files soon! My apologies for missing your comment!

Comments deleted.

My mini Aussie tore his ACL this week so I think I know my next 3D printing project. Amazing design :)

Sorry to hear that. Glad to hear you'll build the chair! Feel free to message me if you have any questions. :)


wanted to check, right now i'm doing a free community service for pets and dog, would like to ask whether can i use your design to print for them free, is that possible?

The materials and access to a machine may cost you some money, but you are absolutely welcome to use my design in any way you like as long as you're not selling it!

Thanks you Rickee, it will help more animal. i'm not selling it, i just want to help those poor one.

Thanks Rickee,

for developping FiGO.

I downloaded it for the CAP-Project to help dogs around the World in Low-Budget Countries.
They will be send as a complete packet.

Thanks for being a part of this,

Aad Koene, The Netherlands.

Thanks!! Please keep me posted :)!

Hi Rickee, thanks for developing FiGO.

i downloaded it for use at the CAP-project to help dog's all around the world in low-budget countries.
Voluneers around the world will print it as a packet that can be send all over the world

Thanks for being a part of that,

Aad Koene.

wonderful... i can help different pet with this !!!

thanks !!!!

This is really cool. I'm really interested in designing prosthetics for animals. We should work on making something similar to E-Nable but for animals instead. I'd be really interested in helping you out! :)

I like this proposal. I'd love to help with this.

I might print some of these and donate them to a local shelter. What you are doing is amazing and is one of the reasons 3d printing is so awesome! keep it up!

That's cool man. I think you would be better off contacting the shelter and seeing if they have a pet in need of it since I believe that it needs to be size specific.

awesome dude !!!!! Keep doing this wonderfull job !!! I'll try this with some dog !!!

Thanks for all the time you put into this! This is very helpful. I happen to have a dog that looks a lot like the one in the photo above.